In the run up to summer, there’s nothing quite like having a day out at the beach. Of course, London itself doesn’t really have any, so for those of us dwelling in the city a trip to the coasts is needed. While the UK might not be a tropical country, we still have some great picturesque beaches that can be enjoyed in the sunnier months, and so we’ve made a list of some of the best beaches close enough to London for a good day out (up to roughly 2 hours away).
Kicking off the list, Brighton is easily one of the most popular and vibrant destination for those wanting a beach day out in the country. The city itself is great, and the beach has plenty of things to do while you’re there. It’s been voted one fo the Top 10 city beach break destinations in the word, with all sorts of activities like paddle boarding, kayaking, frisbee and more going on. There’s also the beach’s famous promenade and pier, as well as the Marina and Volk’s railway. You’re not going to be bored if you choose Brighton for a day out.
Tourist board: www.visitbrighton.com
Broadstairs is located in Kent, and is another fab beach location for the day. The coastline has seven different sandy beaches, and it really is a beautiful place. Viking Bay has plenty of stuff for kids to do like children’s rides and beach huts, Botany Bay features chalk stacks, and you’ll find plenty of cliff walks, shops and cottages to peruse at leisure. There’s also St Peter’s Village Tours, award winning guided tours done in costume for a really fun time. The whole town and beachside has a really postcard-esque feel, so make sure to get in some good snaps for Instagram (and Gran).
Tourist board: www.visitkent.co.uk
One of the best beaches in Whistable, Tankerton is a great spot for a pure beach experience: quiet and tranquil, there’s pretty much just you, the beach and the sea, and that’s enough. There’s some really nice beach huts, a lovely promenade, and a few great places to get seriously tasty seafood and ice cream. You can also spot the wind turbines on the Kentish flats as you chill at the water’s edge. The sunrise and sunsets also look amazing at Tankerton in particular. Whitstable itself is also known for it’s oysters, so make sure to try some out when it’s time to tuck in.
Tourist board: www.visitsoutheastengland.com
Also in Kent, Margate is a seaside town that’s not far from Canterbury, and is another location to definitely pop over to for a day out. There’s plenty of sandy beaches here, along with some amazing seafood stalls and seaside rides to enjoy. There’s also the brilliant Turner Contemporary, an international art gallery overlooking the sea that always has an electic mix of art inside to lose yourself in. Dreamland meanwhile is an amusement park with old school vintage rides (like the UK’s oldest wooden roller coaster), and there’s plenty more to discover like small independent shops and loads of bars. It’s a great place to visit with a group of friends.
Tourist board: www.visitthanet.co.uk
One of the nicest beaches in Sussex, and as you might expect from the name has plenty of sand to frolic in, unlike most other beaches in the Sussex area. Recreational activies like windsurfing a popular here, though you might be too busy digging holes and building sandcastles- it’s a big beach, some 5 miles long. It’s also very clean and picturesque, and a great place to go with kids or a dog for a walk. Camber Sands also has one of the longest dune systems in the region, and it really is a stand out. Just remember to empty your shoes of sand before getting back in the car.
Tourist board: www.visit1066country.com
Another great seaside resort town, Littlehampton can be found in West Sussex, and packs in a lot: piers, a promenade, a theme park and more. Oh, and there’s plenty of places to get food, if you’re feeling peckish for a fish and chips after a day’s activities. Littlehampton also features a pretty odd little novelty of its own: the longest bench in the UK. Colourful and fun, the bench was opened in 2010, and can sit over 300 people along the promenade, close to blue flag beach. It came from a grant by Gordon Roddick, husband of the late Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, and is a fitting tribute in the Body Shop’s town of operations.
Tourist board: www.visitlittlehampton.co.uk
The main feature of Birling Gap isn’t so much the beach itself, but the chalk cliffs it’s at the base of: the famous Seven Sisters. It’s sandwiched between Brighton and Eastbourne, and getting to it is almost an adventure in itself: you have to venture down a tower staircase from cliff level (don’t worry, it’s not that high up) and then you’re free to explore. Sadly, the beach is being eroded at a fairly significant rate, but right now it’s here to enjoy- just make sure you take note of any signs warning of rocks falling from the cliff faces. Otherwise, Birling Gap is a great little beach for a visit.
Tourist board: www.nationaltrust.org.uk
East Head, West Wittering
Another excellent beach to go to if you’re a fan of sand, East Head is one of the last surviving pieces of natural coastline in West Sussex. There’s plenty to see here, with sand dunes and shingle, as well as salt marshes. The plantlife at East Head looks particularly nice during the summer, and the sand dune spit is around 1000 metres long and 400 metres wide, and is linked to the mainland by another spit dubbed The Hinge. There’s also a good amount of wildlife top be spotted here, including occasional seals at low tide. It’s definitely a beach to go to if you have an interest in fauna and flora, or just want to visit one of the best beaches in West Sussex.
Tourist board: www.nationaltrust.org.uk